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Aquino appoints Bacalzo PNP chief

By Christine O. Avendaño, Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:33:00 09/14/2010

Filed Under: Police, political killings, Crime and Law and Justice, Media killings

MANILA, Philippines?A bar topnotcher, who once headed a task force that investigated the killings of media people and political activists, has been named the new chief of the Philippine National Police.

Deputy Director General Raul Bacalzo will replace outgoing PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa, who is retiring from the service Tuesday, President Benigno Aquino III said Monday night.

Mr. Aquino?s choice was relayed to the media by Assistant Press Secretary Rey Marfil. The President is scheduled to attend a change of command ceremony at Camp Crame on Tuesday.

Bacalzo, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class 1977, used to head Task Force Usig, the body created under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to look into the killings of journalists and political activists.

Verzosa was to reach the official retirement age of 56 in December but chose to retire early.

Mr. Aquino has said that Verzosa?s decision to retire early had nothing to do with the Aug. 23 hostage tragedy at Quirino Grandstand, where the police received heavy criticisms for bungling the negotiations and the rescue of Hong Kong tourists on a bus seized by dismissed Senior Insp. Rolando Mendoza.

Eight tourists and Mendoza were killed after an 11-hour standoff.

12th in bar exams

Mr. Aquino has said that he and Verzosa had agreed long before the hostage tragedy that the latter would retire this month.

Bacalzo is an advocate of improving the investigative capabilities of the PNP.

Before being appointed PNP chief, he was deputy chief of operations, No. 3 on the PNP hierarchy.

In the 1984 bar exams, Bacalzo placed 12th.

Before ascending to the PNP?s Command Group, the top echelons of the 130,000-strong national police force, Bacalzo worked for the revision of the PNP Criminal Investigation Manual.

Antidrug operations

He also served as director for investigation and detective management, where he called for enhancement of the technical capabilities of police investigators.

In particular, Bacalzo moved to develop the Automated Fingerprint Identification System that speeds up the identification of criminals through fingerprints.

He also served as head of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force.

Bacalzo is not without his detractors.

As head of Task Force Usig, he was criticized by militant groups for failing to stem the killings of journalists.

Not their choice

Just recently, a group calling itself the ?Junior Officers of the Philippine National Police? circulated a ?white paper? addressed to President Aquino.

Using what seemed to be an official stationery of the PNP, the officers said in the letter?a copy of which was sent to reporters in Camp Crame?that they opposed the appointment of Bacalzo to the top PNP post.

They claimed Bacalzo was involved in gambling and illegal drugs. They also said that as head of Usig, Bacalzo failed in his mandate to curb the killings of media people.

PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz said he had not read the letter, and would not comment. The Inquirer tried to contact Bacalzo but he could not be reached.

Bacalzo is set to retire in September 2011.

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